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Ashkenazi 311.(Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Ashkenazi heads to France, Italy
IDF Chief left on Sunday on a five-day trip aimed at increasing military ties with Europe.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi left on Sunday on a five-day trip to Italy and France for talks with defense leaders aimed at increasing military ties with Europe.

Ashkenazi’s first stop was Rome, where he was to meet with Italy’s Chief of Defense General Staff Gen. Vincenzo Camporini and officials from the Italian Defense Ministry.

On Monday, on the eve of Tisha Be’av, Ashkenazi is scheduled to hold a small ceremony at the Arch of Titus in Rome.

On Tuesday, Ashkenazi is to continue to Paris for talks with his French counterpart, Adm.

Edouard Guillaud, as well as with leaders of the Jewish community.

The IDF decided to go ahead with Ashkenazi’s trip to Europe despite the continued threat that senior IDF officers could be arrested for their involvement in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009. Ashkenazi is accompanied by a large security detail as well as his wife, Ronit, and IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu.

The army’s ties with European countries have grown in recent years due to increased cooperation in the war on terrorism.

France and Italy, for example, both have large military contingents in Afghanistan as well as in southern Lebanon as part of UNIFIL.
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